, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 871-881
Date: 02 Feb 2007

Composition and distribution of the peracarid crustacean fauna along a latitudinal transect off Victoria Land (Ross Sea, Antarctica) with special emphasis on the Cumacea

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The following study was the first to describe composition and structure of the peracarid fauna systematically along a latitudinal transect off Victoria Land (Ross Sea, Antarctica). During the 19th Antarctic expedition of the Italian research vessel “Italica” in February 2004, macrobenthic samples were collected by means of a Rauschert dredge with a mesh size of 500 μm at depths between 85 and 515 m. The composition of peracarid crustaceans, especially Cumacea was investigated. Peracarida contributed 63% to the total abundance of the fauna. The peracarid samples were dominated by amphipods (66%), whereas cumaceans were represented with 7%. Previously, only 13 cumacean species were known, now the number of species recorded from the Ross Sea increased to 34. Thus, the cumacean fauna of the Ross Sea, which was regarded as the poorest in terms of species richness, has to be considered as equivalent to that of other high Antarctic areas. Most important cumacean families concerning abundance and species richness were Leuconidae, Nannastacidae, and Diastylidae. Cumacean diversity was lowest at the northernmost area (Cape Adare). At the area off Coulman Island, which is characterized by muddy sediment, diversity was highest. Diversity and species number were higher at the deeper stations and abundance increased with latitude. A review of the bathymetric distribution of the Cumacea from the Ross Sea reveals that most species distribute across the Antarctic continental shelf and slope. So far, only few deep-sea records justify the assumption of a shallow-water–deep-sea relationship in some species of Ross Sea Cumacea, which is discussed from an evolutionary point of view.